Kimberly Gould’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Cheer Up Already!
It was one of those days, one of those weeks, one of those months. They came pretty regularly. I’d be a regular, happy person, enjoying life while bitching about the little things with my friends, normal, and then the curtain falls and suddenly nothing is good enough, especially me. These black moods made me hate myself. I had no reason to be depressed, I wasn’t under inordinate stress, my family was close by and willing to help out if I did have too much on my plate. Work had its little downs, but I was doing something that mattered, helping disabled people get the equipment and medical aid they needed. Any other day, seeing the smile when I arranged for a new chair or a new nurse would float me on a cloud through the rest of the tedium. Today, however, even that bright smile didn’t lift my spirits.
“Whoa. Who died?” I stopped and looked around. I’d been wandering aimlessly through West Edmonton Mall and stopped near one of the entrances to the amusement park. The noise was perfect for drowning out the voice that kept talking me down. It didn’t cover this voice, though. The carousel turned in front of me, painted horses and children with parents going in circles, just like my thoughts.
“Are you okay?” the same voice asked, though I hadn’t placed it yet.
“Come here, you’re riding with me.” It was a man, but where was he?
He came from behind the carousel, oddly enough, and took my elbow. “Come on. You can tell me about it once you’re on a horse.”
I pulled my arm from his grip. Who did he think he was?
“Look, I know I’m a bit weird, but there are people all around us. It’s not like I’m going to hurt you. Besides, it looks like you’re hurt enough already.”
Sighing, I followed him into the line, standing behind a mother and her toddler. The little girl was practically vibrating. “Again!” she kept saying, pointing at the ride.
“Yes, Maddy, we’ll go again,” her mother assured her, holding her hand tightly.
The man beside me chuckled. “Do you remember being that excited for something?” he asked, taking hold of my hand and linking our fingers.
“No,” I grumbled honestly.
“Oh, come one, you must. You might be hurting now, but you weren’t always like this.”
I sighed, knowing he was right. “Yeah, when my family went to Disneyland. I don’t think I slept that whole week.”
He laughed again. “I’ve never been. How old were you?”
“Ten,” I said, feeling my lips curve very slightly upward at the memory. “The best part was getting my picture taken with Tigger.” I’d always loved the bouncy tiger.
“Tigger? Can’t say I would have guessed that. He’s a favourite of mine too. So what’s making you look like Eeyore?” he asked as we climbed on the carousel horses. He sat right behind me, leaning forward to hear over the noise and music.
“Nothing,” I grumbled. “I have no reason to feel this way. No reason to be here. No reason-” I cut off as tears filled my eyes and throat. I sobbed in a ragged breath and jumped at the hand on my back.
“Hey, you don’t need a reason. Sometimes you just need to cry, need let yourself go so you can come back. Don’t fight it so hard. Let yourself feel it, and then go back to Tigger.”
He didn’t get it. When I went there, I was useless, unable to move. I slumped into the pole holding my horse in place and let myself bawl. No one could hear me over the music anyway.
The spinning stopped, the music replaced with a nasal voice telling us to exit carefully. There he was, standing at my horse’s head, bouncing like an idiot.
“Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. The best thing about Tiggers is I’m the only one! I’m the only one!”
I couldn’t help it, though I tried, spluttering at first. A belly laugh shook my whole body, and I held onto the pole for a new reason.
“That’s better,” he said, offering his hand to help me down.
“Who are you, anyway?” I asked.
“No one. Just saw you needed a little help. I get like that sometimes. In fact, it’s why I’m here. Want to go on another ride?”
“Sure. Why are you here?”
“The kids!” he said, grinning. I would never guess he was ever depressed, something most people said about me, actually. “I watch them and remember the first time my mom took me to the rides here. We spent the whole day on the four I was big enough to go on. It’s a happy memory. Like you and Tigger.”
I nodded, starting to get it. “Thank you.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you.”
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Kimberly Gould is the author of Cargon: Honour and Privilege and the upcoming Thickness of Blood. She can be found most places as Kimmydonn, including Kimmydonn.com